Over the top for Overlake?

T he Overlake baseball team may play in Class 1A, but don’t think the small school is short on talent.

Owls baseball team possesses plenty of talent — and motivation

T he Overlake baseball team may play in Class 1A, but don’t think the small school is short on talent.

Senior Catcher Trevor Kowal is being looked at by Gonzaga University. Junior pitcher Michael Castle, 6-foot-5 inches, 210 pounds, was clocked at 86 miles per hour last year and is working with the University of Washington pitching coach on his summer baseball team. Fellow juniors Tommy Castle and Danny Poplawski both have aspirations of playing at the next level, and junior Seth Bensussen is the reigning Emerald City League rookie of the year.

Yet with all the fine players on the roster, Overlake barely missed the tri-district tournament last year and may be in for another dogfight this year with four teams fighting for three playoff spots.

That’s how tough Emerald City is, and has been for some time. Overlake 2006 graduate Brett Gardner is roaming the outfield at Dartmouth University and Cedar Park Christian 2007 graduate J.D. Awald signed to pitch at Washington.

The league is loaded again this spring. Overlake will be competing this year with the likes of Cedar Park, Bellevue Christian and University Prep for one of the three tri-district spots.

“It turns out that everybody else returns some pretty good players as well,” Overlake head coach Mike Davidson said with a smile.

A loss to Cedar Park at the end of last year crippled Overlake’s chances of making it to state. Coming up just short last year is motivation for this year, Poplawski said.

“(It’s) definitely motivation because we know we can get there,” said the junior starting shortstop. “We should have gotten there last year, but we have a new crew this year. A bunch of new guys who can help us out. A bunch of returning guys, especially us leaders who know we want to take our team somewhere.”

One of those leaders is Kowal, the catcher being looked at by Gonzaga and one of just four seniors on the roster. Kowal, who is hoping to shine for Gonzaga recruiters this weekend when Bear Creek plays a double-header against Reardon in Spokane on Saturday, sat out all of last year with a wrist injury. Kowal said it was “really frustrating” sitting out last year and he was thrilled to be back on the field this year.

He is one of five players who actually attend the 2B Bear Creek School, also in Redmond, but play on the Overlake team because Bear Creek doesn’t have the numbers to field a team.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Kowal said of playing with Overlake students. “We are normally rivals throughout the year, so it’s fun to go get out and see these guys (and) play alongside them.”

Kowal, who who was the goalie on Bear Creek’s 2006 boys soccer championship team, said getting to state in baseball as a sophomore was a key moment in high school, and wants to get back.

So does Michael Curtis, who pitched sparingly as a freshman that year, and didn’t pitch at state.

“We feel if we want to make a state run, this could be one of our best years because we just have a lot of depth and skill,” Curtis said.

But to make state this year,

Success in those three games may mean the Owls are the ones doing the bumping of another team out of state this year.

“They set really high goals for themselves,” Davidson said of his players. “We certainly don’t have to do that as coaches. They have a lot they want to achieve.”

Returning to state is at the top of the list this season.